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Discover Hidden Treasures - Victoria's Unique and Diverse Marine Life

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The waters off Australia's southern coast are special and unique. Over 90% of the plants and animals living here are found nowhere else on earth.

Within Victoria's coastal waters there lies a hidden yet thriving and colourful underwater world, teeming with fascinating marine life - from delicate sea stars, sponges and coral to brilliantly patterned fish, fur seals and majestic whales.

Over 12,000 species of marine animals and plants live in a variety of underwater environments, including kelp forests, sponge gardens, sandy seafloors, seagrass meadows and spectacular underwater canyons. By keeping some of these marine areas in a natural state, free of damaging human activities, we will help these species survive into the future.

Discover Victoria's Marine State Emblem - the Weedy Seadragon

The animal in this picture is an extraordinary fish that is only found in Australia's southern waters called the Weedy Seadragon. In 2002 the Victorian government chose the Weedy Seadragon to become Victoria's marine state emblem. They are found in all southern states with their distribution centred on Victoria.

Weedy Seadragons can be observed in a number of Victoria's Marine National Parks and Marine Sanctuaries including in the Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park near Melbourne, Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park, Point Addis Marine National Park and Port Campbell Marine National Park. They can also be readily seen in a number of locations such as around Portsea and Rye piers in Port Phillip Bay.

Weedy Seadragons are often found in Victoria's kelp forests where their unusual body shape allows them to hide amongst the seaweeds. With their highly modified fins that resemble seaweed, these animals are difficulty to spot as they drift through the kelp forest despite their bright colours.

Weedy Seadragon

Weedy Seadragons are in the same family of fish as seahorses and pipefish, known as the Syngnathidae (Pronounced: Sing - nay - thid - day). Unlike most other animals the males in this group are responsible for the development of the young. Male Weedy Seadragons carry developing eggs in a special fold beneath their tails. When the young begin to hatch from the eggs they swim away from their parent as miniature versions of their mum and dad. They are already able to detect food items in the waters around them to start feeding. It is likely that their body shape is particularly important for camouflage at this stage of their lives.

Weedy seadragons mainly feed on small shrimp like animals that they are able to detect with their keen eyesight. On finding their prey they drift towards them and use their long straw like mouths to suck in water and capture.

The Weedy Seadragon is closely related to the Leafy Seadragon that is the marine state emblem for South Australia.

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